Connecting Texas

True Tales of the People Who Built Our Highways and Bridges

Non-Fiction - Historical
366 Pages
Reviewed on 11/25/2019
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Author Biography

Gary Scharrer first experienced the full benefits of roads at a younger age than most. Both of his parents grew up on dairy farms, and Scharrer was eleven years old when he first started driving farm machinery on rural Michigan roads.

He paid his way through college working on Great Lakes freighters that hauled taconite iron ore pellets from the northern shores of Lake Superior to the steel mills in Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. He lived and worked as a deckhand on the freighters—some as long as 1,000 feet—seven days a week. Back then, he didn’t know that limestone could be used in making road base.
For most of his career, Scharrer worked as a newspaper reporter covering Texas politics and public policy issues, and for nearly thirty years, he reported from the Texas State Capitol Bureau for the San Antonio Express-News, the Houston Chronicle, and the El Paso Times. During that time, he won five Texas Headliner Club awards.

Scharrer got his start in journalism as a sports writer and sports editor at Michigan State University’s student newspaper and went on to become sports editor of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and editor of the Frankenmuth News. In 1987, he was a reporter at USA Today in Washington, D.C.

After forty-three years as a journalist, he joined the staff of Texas Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), before landing at the Associated General Contractors of Texas.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

When we take our cars and go out for a drive, we rarely – maybe never – consider how the road system makes our lives easier. It is even more improbable that we give a thought to those energetic human beings who built the infrastructures we use every day. Nonetheless, their efforts allow us to do what we normally do. Knowing the people who made the Texan road system one of the best in the United States can be an exciting adventure. It is thanks to Gary Scharrer that we discover the stories of the roads and of the people who built them. In his illustrated book, Connecting Texas, we meet extraordinary men and women and discover their passion and commitment. Sharrer recalls achievements, generosity, and the impact of technology. At the end of Connecting Texas, he also reflects on the future of such an incredible legacy.

Connecting Texas is a memorable book, rare to the point of being unique. Scharrer describes the advantages of having highways and bridges, but it is in the stories of the people who made them happen that he makes his point. When he reveals the lives and values of the entrepreneurs and quotes their words extensively, the process becomes more human. Readers can sympathize with the people who built their roads and understand what their interests were. I believe this is the best accomplishment of this book. Moreover, the bold font used to highlight the most important quotes and the wonderful pictures that accompany the text make Connecting Texas even clearer. Indeed, this is a book to treasure.